PhD Proposal by Heon Yeong Lee

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PhD Proposal by Heon Yeong Lee


Heon Yeong Lee

(Advisor: Prof. Nancey Green Leigh)

will propose a doctoral thesis entitled,

Geography of Emerging Jobs: Places Where New Jobs are Created


Thursday, August 10 at 10:30 a.m., ArchEast 214






We are witnessing a growing application of emerging technologies, such as automation technology and artificial intelligence, in the workplace. Commentators forecast that many existing jobs will undergo a substantial transformation as emerging technologies lead to rapid shifts in work environments and skill demands. They also predict negative consequences in the form of technological unemployment, decreasing share of middle-skilled occupations, and growing inequality among workers resulting from work transformation.

This discussion of the future of work offers valuable insights into economic restructuring and changing social conditions. However, the current discussion lacks consideration of the following aspects: First, existing studies heavily rely on speculation and professional assessment rather than evidence-driven analysis. Second, existing studies primarily focus on the technological impacts on existing jobs. This could obscure the technological impact on jobs as it fails to shed light on the creation and evolution of jobs driven by new technologies. Lastly, most studies take an aspatial approach that inherently assumes zero friction in technological diffusion. Given the significance of geography in innovation and technological diffusion, as well as heterogeneity in social and economic conditions across regions, this approach may lead to overly simplified conclusions about the societal impacts of emerging technologies.

This research will examine the geography of emerging jobs – jobs recently appearing in the U.S. labor market that utilize new knowledge and technologies – and their implications for local regional economic development. Using skill requirement information from a job posting database, this research will identify new and emerging jobs and construct spatial data that represent the geographical distribution of new and emerging jobs across the U.S. metropolitan areas. The research will highlight the difference across U.S. regions in terms of the ability to create new and emerging jobs as well as explore the influences of existing industrial bases and occupational structures on the distribution of new and emerging jobs. Lastly, this research will investigate the impact of new and emerging jobs on regional performance in terms of economic growth and resilience.

The findings of the research can contribute to the theoretical discussion of the evolutionary process of economic development, as well as to analytic methods for regional economies. Essentially, identifying new and emerging jobs associated with technological changes captures the process of creative destruction. By examining new and emerging jobs concerning regional industry and existing job structures, the research is expected to provide insights as to why some cities have managed to reinvent themselves by taking advantage of the ongoing digital revolution, while others have failed.



Professor Nancey Green Leigh (Advisor) – School of City & Regional Planning

Dr. Stuart Andreason – Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Professor Subhrajit Guhathakurta – School of City & Regional Planning

Professor Bill Drummond – School of City & Regional Planning


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